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Tragedy and dementia
Posted: Saturday, November 2, 2019 7:01 PM
Joined: 11/2/2019
Posts: 1

Four years ago (May 2015) my father had a massive heart attack, and we decided to take him off life support.  We were all there as a family and were with him when he passed away.  BTW, my mom was 74 at that time.  Less than 5 months after my father passed away, my mom found her grandson, who had committed suicide by hanging.  She tried to get him down, tried to help him, but he was already gone for several hours by that time.  It seems that after she discovered my nephew hanging, she began showing signs of dementia.  It's been four months, and she's at I guess you can say in the severe stage part of it.  Can such trauma like finding her grandson have caused her to have a mental breakdown and caused stress induced dementia?  My mom's mom, my grandmother, did have Alzheimer's. Her stages took a long time in between, whereas my mom has deteriorated to the point that one week she was doing alright, but the next week, there was something more mentally off.  The sudden onset of moving between stages has been extremely fast.
I do hope I was able to phrase my question in an easy to understand way, as I've re-did this several times trying to shorten it!

I hope someone has an answer for me.  As we all know how difficult it is taking care of our loved ones.  That question has been on my mind for quite a while.

Thank you


Posted: Saturday, November 2, 2019 7:24 PM
Joined: 5/16/2017
Posts: 582

Scientifically, I dont think you will ever have an answer to your question.    IMO AD is physical deterioration of the brain + at this time there is no effective treatment for it.

However, if a ‘normal’ person experiences the traumas you are describing, they may certainly have detrimental psychological effects(depression etc) that can be evident in a person’s behavior.  I think a person developing AD will be affected similarly, possibly with acceleration of symptoms, but I do not think such experiences ‘cause’ AD.

Posted: Saturday, November 2, 2019 11:54 PM
Joined: 4/1/2014
Posts: 5079

I am sorry for your losses. I am assuming your mother is seeing a mental health specialist, because she could be suffering from something other than Alz. A traumatic experience like your mother went through could induce PTSD, severe depression, insomnia, forgetfulness, apathy-signs that could be mistaken for Alz, but which could have a cure or recovery.

If you can-take her to the Mayo Clinic and get her a thorough mental and physical exam. I checked my mother out for all the common illnesses that might cause dementia like symptoms before I would believe she had Alz.  Good luck!

Posted: Sunday, November 3, 2019 3:56 AM
Joined: 3/6/2017
Posts: 2209

It's unlikely trauma caused dementia, but it could exacerbate how it presents. A geripsychiatrist might be able to help here. 

Each person with dementia seems to have their own journey. Often those with vascular dementia have periods where they plateau for a time before taking a dramatic downturn. Sometimes an illness like a silent UTI can cause a dramatic change in cognitive level.
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